JAMES PAISIBLE (1656 - 1721)
Jacques Paisible (c.1656-1721) Six Setts of Aires Born in France, the composer, recorder player and oboist Jacques (James) Paisible lived and worked in London for more than forty years. He arrived in England from his native France in 1673 together with his compatriot Robert Cambert and a number of other French musicians, and started his new professional life playing the oboe, an instrument recently adapted in France from the shawm, and practically unknown elsewhere.
In 1675 he played the recorder in Calisto: Or, the Chaste Nimph, a masque written by John Crowne with music by Nicholas Staggins, Master of the King's Musick. This lavish entertainment, staged at Whitehall Palace, was the first in Paisible's life-long association with the royal household. He obtained a licence to marry Mary (Moll) Davis - a retired singer, actress and dancer who had famously borne a daughter, Lady Mary Tudor, to King Charles II in 1673. They were married on 4 December 1686, and according to his own testimony, he was then 'about 30'. This is at present the only source for his date of birth. It is therefore possible to assume that he was born around 1656, the year of the celebrated viola da gamba virtuoso Marin Marais' birth in Paris.
Like his contemporary Henry Purcell (1659-1695), Paisible became very active as a supplier of instrumental music for London theatre productions. He wrote pieces for plays, such as Timon of Athens (1678), Bancroft's Edward III performed at Drury Lane Theatre in 1690, Oroonoko (1695), The Spanish Wives (1696), King Henry IV (1700) and Love's Stratagem in 1703. The list of his works also includes several compositions for one or two recorders (published in London and Amsterdam), overtures, songs and dances. Most of the latter were written on the occasion of Queen Anne's birthday celebrations, a task which he carried out for almost twenty years.
Although he was an accomplished oboist and string player as well as an able singer, the core of his reputation was founded on his abilities as a recorder virtuoso. Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach, the German traveller and collector, who attended a public concert in London in which Paisible had participated, praised him as being a flautist 'without equal'. Some of Paisible's colleagues performing at London principal theatres also wrote and published similar pieces to those presented here. Gottfried Keller, William Babel, Johann Christian Schickhardt and Gottfried Finger, to mention but a few, produced works which were played both at public concerts and during theatre intervals. In addition, works such as these were in demand by a growing number of amateurs. There is plenty of documented evidence that Paisible and other instrumentalists regularly performed this kind of repertoire in such London venues as York Buildings, Richmond